Minneota Mascot, Friday, 15 April 1960, pp.1,5.

Two Girls Drown Sunday In River Near Ball Park

Probing River — Searchers in boats probed the river bottom with rakes, poles, and pikes as they searched Sunday night and Monday for the two girls who drowned in the South Branch of the Yellow Medicine River. As many as six boats, each carrying five or six men, were in the water at one time and men on shore held the boats steady in the current with ropes. This picture, taken about 10 p.m. Sunday, shows Civil Defense Director C.W. Frakes, on shore at the left, holding the boat in the swift stream as six Minneota men searched the bottom of the river bed. In the boat left to right, are Mayor A.W. Pennings, Virgil Richards, Irving Jerzak, Edgar Gillund, Dick Johnson and Ray Van Dorpe. The bodies of the two little girls were found Monday afternoon a short distance upstream from where this photo was taken. —Mascot Photo.

Joint services were held at Hope Lutheran Church for Cheryl Hasel, four years old, and Judy Ann Jasperson, eight, who drowned in the South Branch of the Yellow Medicine river near the ball park Sunday afternoon and whose bodies were recovered from the river bed the following day, after an extensive 20-hour search, during which as many as 100 men at times participated.

The bodies of the two little girls, first cousins, were found Monday afternoon upstream from the bridge across the river, a short distance northeast of the baseball diamond.

Cheryl was the daughter of Mrs. Shirley [Lund] Hasel and Judy Ann was was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Jasperson [Doris Lund].

Mothers of the two drowning victims are sisters.

As far as is known this is the first time that the river at the north edge of town has claimed a life, though children have been pulled from the water before going under a number of times.

Rev. E. David Natwick officiated at the services held Wednesday for Cheryl and Judy and interment was made in the Hope Lutheran Cemetery.

Casket bearers for Cheryl were Keith Kaas, Leslie Kaas, Bruce Wigness and Mark Garrow, and casket bearers for Judy were Charles Jasperson, Bruce Jasperson, Daniel Jasperson, and Daren Gislason.

Cheryl Fay Hasel was born on July 27, 1955, at Westbrook, Minn., to Leonard and Shirley [Lund] Hasel, and was baptised in Marshall.

She is survived by her parents, a brother Bruce, 11 years old, a sister Peggy, 15 months, and her grandmother, Mrs. G.L. Hasel of Ivanhoe.

Judy Ann Jasperson was born on March 11, 1952, at Westbrook to Earl and Doris [Lund] Jasperson.

She was baptised in Storden, attended Hope Lutheran Sunday school and was in the second grade at the Minneota public schools.

Judy is survived by her parents, two brothers, Earl David, 16; Michael Barry, 10; two sisters, Joanne 13 and Jean 6, and her grandfather, Jens Jasperson of Tyler.

Search for the girls started late Sunday afternoon when members of their families discovered the two were missing and a general alarm was sounded about 5:45 and from then until about 11 p.m. and the following day starting about 6 a.m. and until the last body, that of Cheryl, was pulled from the stream about 5 o'clock, volunteer workers combed the creek, its banks and the surrounding area from as far west as the VanHecke farm, on the west edge of town, to the George Olevson farm, two miles east of town.

Sheriff Roland Rans, who was called shortly after the public learned the girls were missing, guided the searching parties and he was assisted by Civil Defense Director C.W. Frakes, Fire Chief Delmar Freidrichs and Police Officer John Bernardy.

At times the grounds surrounding the ball park thronged with curious residents of the area who watched with grim interest as men in boats and others wearing hip boots searched the river and its banks.

The hunt at first was not confined solely to the river because it was believed that the youngsters might have wandered off into nearby fields or into some outbuilding in the vicinity but, after going over all these spots Sunday evening and a plane had flown over the area Monday morning, the search was concentrated to the water.

Sherrif Rans was first given information that the two girls had been seen in the vicinity of the "ball park bridge" and the search was concentrated there but Monday noon, after questioning some boys who, he learned that morning, had been playing at the ball diamond Sunday afternoon he directed the searchers to work farther upstream and about an hour after the hunt was started in this section of the river the first body was brought from the water.

About an hour afterwards the second body was located a short distance from where the first had been found and the long, arduous task came to a heartbreaking end.

The two girls had left their homes shortly before noon Sunday, accompanied by Jean Jasperson, Judy Ann's six-year-old sister and she returned home a short time afterwards.

They were sighted near the creek shortly before 1 p.m. and the boys to whom Sheriff Rans talked at noon Monday said that they had seen the girls walking away from the ball diamond in the direction of the river at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

The river was high, but not nearly as high as a week before, in some places but a few feet deep while in others close to eight feet.

Workers were hampered in scouring the river by the swift current and the fallen branches, stumps, and other debris that littered the bottom.

Officials who directed the hunt for the missing girls were assisted by members of the Minneota Fire Department, Civil Defense Unit members, school teachers, farmers and school boys and firms dismissed employees so they could join the hunt.

Women of the community brought coffee and food to the men at work.

Mayor Praises, Thanks Community For Assistance

Mayor A.W. Pennings praised and thanked the residents of this community, as well as those from neighboring towns and the officials in charge, for volunteering their assistance and their quick response to a call for help during the 22-hour search for the bodies of the two little girls who drowned in the creek at the north edge of town Sunday afternoon.

"When tragedy or disaster strikes," Mayor Pennings said, "It is most gratifying to know that we have so many people in this community and the surrounding area, too, willing to give unstintingly of their time and effort — regardless of what the hour or how arduous the task may be.

"Last Sunday's tragic death of two young girls brought these thoughts to me vividly and I want to express my thanks on behalf of the residents of Minneota to the hundreds — women as well as men — who answered the call for assistance.

"I saw school teachers working side by side with farmers, firemen assisted by school boys and Civil Defense workers assisted by college students and game wardens search the creek bottom and the surrounding area hour after hour. Then, too, there were the women who brought coffee and food for the men at work.

"If any individuals were to be singled out for praise and thanks, I think they would be Sheriff Roland Rans, who headed the search, C.W. Frakes, of the local Civil Defense Unit, Delmar Freidrichs, chief of the Minneota Fire Department and Police Officer John Bernardy. The responsibility of the search lay on their shoulders and they rose to the occasion admirably, but without the assistance of the people who live in this and nearby communities it would have been an impossible task."

"The community, too," said Pennings, "is to be praised for the manner in which it conducted itself in this hour of tragedy and we all now know that we can count on every resident to do his best should an occasion similar to this ever confront us again."

Thanks to Cherri Schmig, Minneota Mascot Office Manager, for finding and sending this article on July 30, 2018.